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When cancer comes calling: A story of second chances

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – When it comes to medical conditions, there’s one word that’s pretty scary for a lot of people. It’s both unexpected and life-changing. We’re talking about cancer.

Jonathan Chance is a freelance journalist in Los Angeles. He’s a veteran in the business, covering some of the country’s most high profile stories, including the OJ Simpson trials.

At 58 years old, Jonathan says he felt healthy. Little did he know a routine checkup would soon begin a new trial, tougher than any story he’s ever covered.

“I went to my yearly physical and my doctor did some blood and PSA tests,” said Chance. “He came into the room and said ‘Your PSA is a little elevated. I don’t think it’s anything but let’s just check it ‪in 90 days‬. So he rechecked it ‪in 90 days‬ and it had jumped even more.”

Jonathan’s doctor said he should see a urologist for more testing. Two weeks later, he heard nothing. So Jonathan took the matter into his own hands. He called. He emailed. Enough was enough. But it was advice from a Wheeling family member that led Jonathan 2,000 miles across the country to Wheeling Hospital’s Schiffler Cancer Center, hopeful and searching for answers.

“I met with Dr. Merrick and after a week of some arduous tests: MRI, bones scans and a biopsy,”Chance said. “Dr. Merrick sat me down and said ‘You have aggressive prostate cancer and you could die.'”

Christina Sidrow, Jonathan’s wife, describes what she was thinking at that moment.

“There are no signs and symptoms to this, so outside of a blood test and hearing some numbers, we weren’t thinking ‘Oh my gosh, this could be something like cancer or aggressive prostate cancer,'” Sidrow said. “Our first thought was ‘How did we miss this? How can you tell me something is so advanced and we missed it?'”

In January 2019, Jonathan started the first of 30 radiation treatments – five days a week, for six weeks – while simultaneously working on strength training at the Howard Long Wellness Center. During his dance with treatment, he says the bond between him and his medical team was so strong that it felt like family.

“To the doctor in Los Angeles, I was just a patient,” said Chance. “He told me what he thought and he left the room. Dr. Merrick is the complete opposite. To have a doctor like him take such an interest in me and be more than a doctor, but a friend. That’s a game changer.”

Once treatment was done, Jonathan’s PSA level fell dramatically from 20 to less than 1. But his fight isn’t over. Jonathan says his next goal is to help lower the number of men who die each year from prostate cancer.

“Prostate cancer is one of those things you hear about and think will never happen to me,” said Chance. “Well, it happened to me.”

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